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Texas vs. Washington Player Prop Picks
We’re bringing in the new year with two electric College Football Playoff Semi Final matchups, and the Lineups crew has you covered with betting analysis on everything from player props to spreads and totals. In this article, I’ll cover some of the props I believe could have value in the Sugar Bowl matchup between Texas and Washington. Be sure to use the player prop search tool above to make sure you’re getting the best odds on whichever props you select for the game. Let’s get to work.
Michael Penix Jr. Over 24.5 Pass Completions (-114 FanDuel)
Looking back to the 2022 Alamo Bowl, I believe we can glean some insight into how Texas’s defense will approach this matchup against Michael Penix Jr., one of the best quarterbacks in the country. Texas played a ton of quarters coverage in that game, limiting the big plays and holding Penix to just one completion on ten throws of 20+ yards downfield. That fits their profile this season, as they’re 5th in preventing explosive plays.
However, Penix Jr. completed 11 of his 11 screen passes in the game as Washington prioritized quick throws to get the ball into the hands of their playmakers. Penix finished the game with just 287 passing yards, but he completed 32 passes, 27 of which came within ten yards of the line of scrimmage.
Penix is certainly capable of throwing the deep ball, but that approach led to a win in the Alamo Bowl and is likely to be employed here against a blitz-heavy defense. Texas blitzed Penix on 39% of his dropbacks in that game but generated just five total pressures per PFF, as his ability to get the ball out quickly was a huge neutralizing factor for Texas’s pass rush.
As I break down below, Dillon Johnson faces a brutal matchup against perhaps the best run defense in the country, and I expect Washington to skew more pass-heavy as a result. While I’m sure his passing yardage will be a popular prop in this game, at a lofty 313.5 yards at most shops, I love Penix to go over 24.5 pass completions as a strong pivot option.
Ja’Tavion Sanders Over 41.5 Receiving Yards (-115 DraftKings)
If you haven’t watched Ja’Tavion Sanders this season, you’re in for a treat. The junior tight end out of Denton, Texas comes in at 6’4”, 243 lbs, and he’s an incredible mismatch weapon with his combination of size, speed, and athleticism. In the Big 12 Championship against Oklahoma State, he finished with eight catches for 105 yards and a touchdown.
Sanders came up huge in the team’s game against Alabama earlier this year, as well, finishing with five catches for 114 yards in that one. His usage was sporadic at times, but the Longhorns will likely lean on him here against a Washington defense that plays heavy 4-2-5 and will force Quinn Ewers to make difficult throws over the middle of the field.
The Longhorns could need Sanders to step up more than usual if wide receiver Xavier Worthy can’t be his full self. Worthy was seen on crutches after the Big 12 Championship, and while he said he’s doing everything he can to be 100% for this game, his status is murky. Even if Worthy is a full go, I love this spot for Sanders to make his presence felt.
Dillon Johnson Under 73.5 Rushing Yards (-115 BetMGM)
Oftentimes a one-dimensional offense, Washington benefited greatly from Dillon Johnson’s breakout at the end of the season. Johnson finished the year with over 1,100 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns, picking up over 3 yards per attempt after contact. He went over this rushing yardage prop in six straight games to close out the season, including an impressive 152 yards in the Pac-12 championship win.
However, Johnson is facing a massive uphill battle here against Texas’s elite run defense. The Longhorns arguably have the best run defense in the country, ranking top six in rushing success rate allowed and defensive line yards. First Team All American defensive lineman T’Vondre Sweat was dominant against the run all season.
Washington head coach Kalen DeBoer will be well aware of Texas’s elite run defense, and I expect the Huskies to utilize short area passing with screens and hitches as a proxy for the run game. DeBoer is too smart to run into brick walls on early downs and set up more difficult late downs for Penix, and even if he does try to establish the run, he won’t find much success against this defense.
Bert Auburn Over 7.5 Kicking Points (-136 FanDuel)
While Texas has done a lot of things well this season, finishing drives with touchdowns is not one of them. Bert Auburn has been called upon often this season as the Longhorns rank 90th in red zone touchdown rate. Their touchdowns have often come on explosive plays, but I don’t expect those to be as common in this matchup against an underrated Washington secondary.
Quinn Ewers didn’t evolve as a deep ball passer the way many had hoped this season, and his 32.5% adjusted completion rate on 20+ yard throws ranked just 124th out of 147 qualified FBS passers. Washington will play a steady dose of 4-2-5 defense, ranking 15th in explosiveness allowed as they do an excellent job of taking away the deep ball.
With Texas forced to run more methodical drives, the loss of running back Jonathon Brooks could become a major factor. Brooks ranked 24th in the country with 732 rushing yards after contact this season, and his season-ending torn ACL leaves the team without their dependable rushing leader.
With Ewers forced to lead methodical drives against a stellar secondary that will take away big plays, expect Auburn to be called upon for some field goal attempts in this game. Auburn has been over this number in 9 of the team’s 13 games this season, averaging 10.5 kicking points per game.